The DutySmith SpeedSet™ Duty Belt uses an entirely different
design than any other duty belt ever made. It has a notched, spring steel carrier
rail with a soft rubber backing. This unique construction does one thing very
well: it reduces lower back and upper thigh pain and sciatic nerve problems
caused by the uneven load of the duty belt.
The SpeedSet belt is very flexible horizontally around the
waist, but it does not flex or sag vertically. That means the entire load on
the duty belt is completely balanced all around the waist. No one spot of the
belt feels any heavier on the waist than any other location on the belt. No hot
spots. No heavy spots.
The average duty belt weighs between 12 and 15 pounds. Carrying
a steel frame pistol (instead of a polymer frame), an extra set of handcuffs, a
larger flashlight, the duty belt easily reaches 18 to 20 pounds. Unlike any
other leather or nylon duty belt, the composite SpeedSet Duty Belt evenly
distributes this weight around the entire waist. In addition, the soft rubber yields
to—conforms to the shape of—both hip bones. No cutting into the hips. No
bruising. No irritation.
The SpeedSet Duty Belt has other features not found on most
duty belts. The SpeedSet Duty Belt allows more of the duty gear to be mounted
in or near the front, making the gear easier to reach or allowing more gear to
be mounted. Compared to the traditional Sam Browne belt, it is very easy on the
SpeedSet belt to use the buckle to make ¾-inch adjustments in the waist size.
The SpeedSet Duty Belt can be used with all of the existing
holsters, cases and holders currently in use by the officer. Just slide the belt
loop of the gear holder onto the belt as normal. In fact, your current handgun
holster and TASER holster must be used.
Another option is the use of SpeedSet brand holders and
carriers. All common holders and carriers are available from DutySmith to fit the
SpeedSet belt: baton holder, single and double handcuff holder, double magazine
holder, Mk3 and Mk4 OC canister holder, flashlight holder, smartphone holder,
universal radio holder, and key/glove holder. We did a hands-on evaluation with
all these carriers for a few days. The black basket weave looks very good and
the holders worked just fine.
The DutySmith holders and carriers are all available in
black leather, black nylon, and black basket weave. The SpeedSet duty belt
itself has a matte black finish—both the soft rubber liner and the spring steel
Another option is to use a SpeedSet adaptor to hold your
current gear holders to the outside of the duty belt. Each Lock-On™ conversion kit
contains three Lock-On attachments. The same kind of zip ties used with crowd
control handcuffs are used to attach the adaptor plate to the current gear
holder. With the Lock-On adaptor, your current duty gear will lock onto the
SpeedSet belt rail just like the SpeedSet holders. The Lock-On adaptor is not
intended for use with a duty gun holster or with a TASER® holster.
The SpeedSet holders and the carriers with the Lock-On
adaptors will ratchet 360 degrees, so the tilt of anything on the belt can be
changed when getting in or out of the car—very handy for the collapsible baton.
Secure to the Belt
The SpeedSet holders or Lock-On adapted holders attach to
the SpeedSet Duty Belt the same way. Engage the top set of claws over the steel
inner liner, then press the holder and bottom set of claws onto the steel
liner, and then rotate the cam lever between the upper claws to lock it to the
With either SpeedSet holders, or existing holders using the
Lock-On conversion kit, the holders stay in place. Unlike most duty gear, the
SpeedSet gear is locked in one location and will not move around on the belt
even during a foot pursuit. This decreases the tendency of a holder moving or
sliding in the way of the draw of the firearm. The officer will know exactly
where their holders are at all times.
Once locked in place, the holder attachment is very secure. That
said, the gear remaining attached to the belt is a legitimate concern. We had
one officer put on the SpeedSet Duty Belt and lay on the ground. Another
officer grasped the SpeedSet double mag holder—just the holder—and lifted the
officer off the ground. No, this was not an American Society for Testing and
Materials (ASTM) test, but it sure passes the cop gut test. If the holders come
undone halfway into the shift (as reported on some blogs), then you didn’t
properly engage the upper and lower set of claws.
Mounted on Outside
Using the SpeedSet holders and carriers or Lock-On adaptors,
all the gear is mounted on the outside of the belt. That means, except for the
gun holster and TASER holster, there are no case or carrier belt loops, straps
or mounts to cause hot spots around the waist. Only the belt keepers are on the
body side of the SpeedSet belt. No straps. No pinch points.
The SpeedSet Duty Belt is designed to accept a SpeedSet
Inner Belt. The Inner Belt has a Velcro® lining with the hooks facing out,
while the Duty Belt has a Velcro lining with the loops facing in. The Velcro
hooks on the inside of the duty belt engage the Velcro loops on the outside of
the Inner Belt.
When the 1 ½-inch Inner Belt is used, external belt keepers are
not required to secure the 2 ¼-inch Duty Belt, or at least not as many. (Most
of us would probably use one keeper per side, just to be sure.) The fewer the
keepers, the fewer hot spots. However, the Inner Belt is not required. You can
wear the Duty Belt over the current pants belt and attach it with keepers as
you normally would.
The SpeedSet duty belt has been out for about a year. Perhaps
due to the different look of the SpeedSet belt, it has not seen widespread
patrol use. However, the SpeedSet Duty Belt has found one dominating niche—the
solution to back pain caused by the uneven weight of the duty belt.
Long Beach Police
Clinical Study…the Effects of the SpeedSet Duty Belt System in Law Enforcement
Officers with Back Pain
Back pain and radicular leg pain are common complaints of
law enforcement officers and result in a significant economic burden in terms
of lost days of work, light duty work, temporary and permanent disability,
worker’s compensation benefits, healthcare premiums and community safety.
Commonly, the etiology of this back and radicular leg pain is due to the
equipment worn on the duty belt during the course of work.
The Sam Browne duty belt has been in existence since the
19th century, with early versions having a vertical shoulder strap attached to
the belt for the purpose of additional support. Nearly all U.S. versions of the
Sam Browne exclude the vertical support, placing the entire weight of the belt
and attached equipment solely on the hips and low back.
DutySmith has manufactured the SpeedSet Duty belt with two
primary purposes in mind, 1) providing additional comfort while wearing the duty
belt; and 2) convenience of placing attachments to the duty belt. The comfort
is derived from a unique design using rubber padding that encompasses a
flexible metal frame.
The metal frame better distributes the weight of the
equipment attached to the belt and minimizes “hot spots” commonly found on
leather and nylon belts. The convenience of the SpeedSet comes from the ability
to place and remove attachments (holsters, magazine holders, cuff cases, key
holders, etc.) directly on the belt without having to remove the buckle and
other attachments. This study only focused on the comfort of the belt.
The clinical study was performed on law enforcement officers
of the Long Beach Police Department, Long Beach, Calif. Inclusionary criteria
for study subjects included individuals who were currently experiencing back or
radicular leg pain of moderate or greater intensity during their course of
work. Study subjects had an average tenure of 14.2 years in law enforcement
work, included both male and female officers, and performed duties from routine
patrol, patrol sergeants, and command staff.
All study subjects provided information on their current
medical history as it pertained to their back and/or radicular leg pain, and
were provided a focused medical examination by a physician. Study subjects then
wore the SpeedSet belt for the 15 weeks of the study. At the conclusion of the
study, all subjects were again medically examined and provided a post-study
evaluation of their back and/or radicular leg pain.
Ten officers participated in the study. Nine of the study
subjects reported statistically significant improvement in their pain and one
officer reported no change in their pain level. Specifically, there were
statistically significant reductions in pain frequency, pain intensity, and
baseline level of pain. No officers reported any worsening of their symptoms.
Objective medical findings included increased range of motion in flexion and
side bending at the conclusion of the study.
Study participants were also provided an option of providing
comments pre- and post- study. Of particular interest were the comments of two
patrol officers who noted that wearing the SpeedSet Duty Belt was as if they
“weren’t wearing a belt at all.” Additional comments included complete
resolution of pain, the ability to return to work sooner, and both difficulty
and ease of use of the buckle.
The SpeedSet belt system provided both subjective and
objective improvement in back and/or leg pain experienced by law enforcement
officers during their course of work. Although the study size was limited, the
inclusionary criteria of having moderate or greater active back and/or
radicular leg pain provided greater opportunity to focus on the benefits of
this belt system.
Further study may be needed to confirm similar findings in those
who only experience minor pain or discomfort from their Sam Browne belt, or to determine
if the SpeedSet belt system may also be effective in preventing back pain. Additionally,
further evaluation may be warranted to look at the convenience of the SpeedSet
belt system. The results of this preliminary study may provide law enforcement departments
an additional option in addressing equipment-induced back pain and/or leg pain
in their officers.
Kenneth S. Cheng,
D.O., Fellow American Academy of Family Physicians, is the author and investigator of this study. He is an active reserve deputy
sheriff and tactical physician for the SWAT unit of his department (and is not
a member of the department that participated in this study). Dr. Cheng is a
family physician in Newport Beach, Calif. He has no financial ownership interest in DutySmith, but was
compensated for his time in performing this study.